SOCIAL distancing, isolation of anyone infected with coronavirus and quarantines for their household members may be the only way to stem the pandemic, a new study suggests.
Social distancing of the entire US population for a period of 18 months could be the only way to curb the killer virus, according to researchers at Imperial College London.
And in worrying times, they believe that if the whole population doesn't hunker down, between 1.1 million and 1.2 million Americans will likely die of coronavirus — even if they are treated.
Their study, published Monday, predicts how the coronavirus pandemic is likely to pan out, depending on how the US and UK respond.
If the US and UK did nothing, they estimate that 81 per cent of each population would become infected, and 2.2 million Americans would die, along with 510,000 Britons.
But keeping people away from each other could cut US deaths down to some 200,000, Mother Jones estimated.
So far, coronavirus has hit all 50 states across the US — with 116 deaths and more than 6,533 confirmed cases nationwide.
The grim milestone comes as health officials tout a consistent message: "Limit your interactions now or overwhelm the health systems meant to take care of you."
The Trump administration's new guidelines — which followed a temporary moratorium on visits to nursing and retirement home facilities — were issued only for 15 days after their Monday announcement, but the Imperial College study suggests far longer efforts may be needed.
Even Trump himself drastically changed his tone and told Americans the pandemic may last in the US until July or August.
According to their assessment, Imperial College experts believe social contact may well need to be minimized until a vaccine is widely available — up to 18 months from now.
They examined the impact of two strategies — mitigation and suppression — on the spread of the virus.
They also analyzed the effects of different levels of suppression tactics on the same.
Mitigation policies would mean "combining home isolation for suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect case and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of the disease," the study authors wrote.
But under those conditions, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and UK alike would likely die in the pandemic, and ICU beds would be overwhelmed by many time over.
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